01 Mar 2014
Building Capacity in the Social SectorTopics:
Looking back over the two-decade history of the HBS Social Enterprise Initiative (SEI), former director Laura Moon says "alumni have been a mainstay." Ferdinand (Ferd) Thun (MBA 1960) is a case in point. The retired director of planned giving at Lehigh University and head of his family's real-estate and investment management firm, Thun first learned about the SEI during an HBS reunion presentation. As his 50th Reunion approached, he decided to contribute to the School in a way that would connect the SEI with his own Pennsylvania community.
Thun's 2007 gift, an endowed scholarship that helps bring a Lehigh Valley nonprofit executive to the SEI's Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management (SPNM) program each year, reflects his understanding of leadership needs within the nonprofit sector. SPNM is a week-long program designed to strengthen the capacity of nonprofit CEOs to lead their organizations effectively. "Nonprofit executives often work 24/7 and have little chance to gain a broader management perspective," observes Thun. "The SPNM experience pushes them to step away from their daily challenges to engage in learning that will help them take their organizations beyond the status quo."
At Thun's request, the United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley plays a key role in recruiting participants who will maximize the impact of their learning. Diane Zanetti describes her participation in SPNM in 2012 as "a timed-release experience that yields lasting benefits." The executive director of Turning Point, an organization that serves victims of domestic violence, Zanetti says, "SPNM offered a lens that allows me to look more critically at issues that arise every day."
Zanetti is one of a number of past SPNM participants in the Lehigh Valley who meet periodically in sessions that extend what they learned at HBS. Through those gatherings, many have met Thun and had a chance, in Zanetti's words, "to let him know the extent to which his gift has been life-changing."
Scholarship recipient William Vogler, a 2012 SPNM participant and executive director of Family Answers, concurs: "When you consider the number of leaders, organizations, and community members who have benefited from Ferd's generosity, the multiplier effect of his gift is pretty amazing."
For more information, visit www.exed.hbs.edu/programs/spnm.
Class of MBA 1960, Section B